Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation

Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman

This detailed, comprehensive study on downsizing in Europe is underpinned by cross-national, interdisciplinary empirical research on restructuring management in five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It contains systematic national comparative overviews, and transversal analyses of more than 30 in-depth case studies, taking into account a broad range of perspectives across professional human resources managers, unions’ representatives, local and national civil servants, social workers and physicians. The authors examine strategic choices and practices in national and local contexts, showing that the practice of restructuring is not as heterogeneous as many previous studies have indicated or predicted. Systematic policy proposals for better economic and social management of restructuring are also prescribed.

Chapter 6: Germany: Negotiated Restructuring

Matthias Knuth and Gernot Mühge

Subjects: business and management, strategic management, economics and finance, labour economics


Matthias Knuth and Gernot Mühge RESTRUCTURING AND THE PUBLIC DISCOURSE German unification (1990) was succeeded by the vast de-industrialisation of the East, and from the mid 1990s, continuous and ubiquitous restructuring in the West. Nevertheless, as a result of Germany’s strong export position, the producing sector (manufacturing, construction and mining) still accounts for about 30% of total employment. In 1990, it was around 40%, and so the public discourse on Strukturwandel (structural change) is focused more on the meso and macro levels (sectors and regions) than on the individual enterprise or plant. The term Strukturwandel is primarily used in a positive sense as a process of adaptation that is necessary to maintain the Standort (Germany’s global competitiveness as a location for production). The media will normally only take notice of company restructuring if it entails major staff cuts or even closures and where large and wellknown companies are involved. Unlike in Belgium, enterprises or plants ‘under restructuring’ are not accorded an officially recognized status and, consequently, there are no statistics on cases of restructuring as such. In the following section, more indirect indicators will be used to assess its importance. 2. IMPORTANCE OF REDUNDANCIES AND DISMISSALS In comparison to France, there are no official statistics on dismissals in Germany. Statistics reflect those moving from employment into unemployment, but do not record why previous employment ended. During the course of 2006, there were around 2.8 million entries into unemployment directly from employment, approximately 100,000 fewer...

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